Richard Morais, Gleaner Writer
A recommendation coming out of the People's National Party's (PNP) National Executive Council (NEC) is for no new taxes to be imposed on Jamaicans.
PNP General Secretary Peter Bunting made the revelation at a press conference following the meeting of the NEC at the William Knibb Memorial High School yesterday.
"The concerns in my workshop had to do with increase in compliance, not just about increase in taxes, but increasing compliance, and that fees and fines be raised to realistic levels and be regularly revised," Bunting said.
The NEC meeting took the format of a workshop on economic growth and political education. Bunting said the recommendations from the various workshops would be compiled and sent to the party's executive committee.
Bunting said another recommendation was for a cap on cash transactions. He said the meeting was of the view that this move would capture persons who avoided paying their taxes. "Because they do everything in cash, this would be a measured address to reduce that - if not eliminate it," Bunting said.
Some $23 billion in new taxes was imposed by the Government last year. Two weeks ago, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips said tax measures would be required as part of the Government's debt-reduction programme.
Following a three-day Cabinet retreat, Phillips said the debt-reduction programme of the Government would begin by increasing the primary surplus for the next fiscal year from the originally planned 6.3 per cent to 7.5 per cent of gross domestic product.
Phillips said the reduction in the debt would require a combination of measures, including taxes, wage restraint, a prioritisation of expenditures, and divestment of public assets.
IMF team coming
Bunting said a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected in Jamaica within weeks to complete discussions for a loan.
"The broad parameters having been agreed, when they are here, it will be to finalise the deal," Bunting said.
"I think the intention is within a couple weeks - two to three weeks," Bunting said.
PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill told journalists that Phillips had told the NEC that "their team is up there (Washington), and there is a promise to send a team down, and there is an agreement that it will be the last team coming down before the agreement is inked".
Pickersgill also said Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who is the PNP president, in her address, said, "The country is depending on us to conclude the IMF agreement, but it will not be done at the disadvantage of the Jamaican people."
Jamaica signed a 27-month standby arrangement with the IMF in February 2010. The programme went off track in late 2011.
The country is hoping for a new IMF programme, which could unlock budgetary support from development partners as well as financing from international capital markets.